Depending on who you ask, Melbourne City are set for a big double-Derby weekend, with our men's and women's sides looking to bounce back in respective clashes against Western United and Melbourne Victory.
Our A-League side are currently seventh in the league with one win and one loss, but after a toothless second-half display against Adelaide (which resulted in our captain Scott Jamieson being sent off), we have definitely lost the early season momentum that was built up after that fighting win over Brisbane. With two players suspended in the first two games of the season, we're going to be walking on a tightrope against the team from out west. Andrew Nabbout and Nathaniel Atkinson remain on the sidelines but Adrian Luna returns from suspension.
After three games, the women's team is stuck on one point and looking a shadow of the side that dominated the W-League in 2019/20. In our horror 6-0 Derby loss, the Victory had six separate goal scorers, with four coming in the last 20 minutes of the game. This might indicate a problem with fatigue or match fitness, especially in our defence. Alex Chidiac appeared as a second-half substitute last week and looms as a big starting XI inclusion this time around, whilst Emma Checker has been named to the matchday squad following a spell on the sidelines. New signing Noor Eckhoff is unavailable following her arrival at the club midweek.
Both our teams have the talent and skill to be right up there in 2020/21 and there is still time to turn the season around. That'll hopefully begin with two wins from two on the weekend.
Seeing Red: New-look City's disciplinary issues
We've given away 29 fouls in our first two games, with five yellow cards being dished out and red cards to Adrian Luna and Scott Jamieson. There's been a lot of what I feel to be unfair criticism of the City captain over the past week, with many of our fans seeming eager to label him as a reckless defender who doesn't deserve to be our leader. Whilst I believe this to be unsubstantiated, we do need to work on our discipline.
On the other hand, our attacking output was also hampered by the sending-offs. Against Brisbane, our right-hand side was obliterated by the injury to Nabbout and Luna's red card, whilst against Adelaide, Jamieson's absence made nabbing an equaliser a much more difficult task.
Before the season started we knew that Patrick Kisnorbo would manage the players very differently to Erick Mombearts, but would likely employ a more Erick-style formation on the pitch.
We've been more undisciplined in 20/21 than in 19/20 and questions are starting to surface about whether new gaffer Kisnorbo is responsible for this.
I don't think that we've reached the style of play that he wants yet, but here's hoping that in our first home match of the season we get to see some 'Kisnorball' in full-flight. I'd say that at this stage in the season, that's even more important than a win; while it's possible to have a run of 4-5 games where you're playing horribly and win most of them, it's unsustainable in the long run.
A lot of the focus will still be on Jamie Maclaren, as he has seven goals in four games against Western United and will be looking to break his mini-dry spell against them later today.
W: A miracle three points would just be a bonus...
by Josh Gribling
No two ways about it, the City W-League team simply MUST put in a better performance against the Victory in this Sunday's Derby repeat.
That 6-0 defeat was humiliating, but supporters wouldn't be wrong to believe that the playing group are capable of so much more than they exhibited last weekend.
Three rounds in, this City team is starting to resemble its final form following the arrival of late-signings and other returns-from-injury. In fact, this weekend City fans are likely to see the strongest lineup yet, with Chinatsu Kira and Alex Chidiac surely set to start together in midfield for the first time, whilst captain Emma Checker returns from injury and will likely come into the back three for Tori Tumeth, who struggled in the Derby loss.
Though we're yet to score a goal from open play, there even seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for our offensive issues, namely in the form of Harriet Withers who put in an admirable display as our lone striker against the Victory.
With only one point on the board after three games and Finals football looking unlikely, this weekend's Derby becomes less about the three points - though they'd be absolutely crucial - and more about earning back some respect and proving to fans that this W-League side is still a team to be proud of.